Page 3 - Mississippi 811 issue 2
P. 3

  from the desk of
Fred Johnson
Wow! The first quarter of 2023 has seemed like a whirlwind. Our former President of Mississippi 811, Inc., Sam Johnson, submitted
a letter of intent to retire, effective March 1, 2023, to our Board of Directors during the first Board meeting of the year on January 12th. Sam has served in that capacity since the inception of the Mississippi One-Call System, Inc. (Mississippi 811, Inc.) for 39 years.
At that time, the Board asked me to temporarily step in as the interim President. About a month later (February 14, 2023) the Board graciously offered me the full-time position of President effective March 1, 2023. I am honored and humbled to have accepted the challenge.
It is my intent to continue the long-established tradition to meet the goals that have been followed for 39 years: Promote a higher level of public safety, reduce underground utility damages, minimize utility service interruption, reduce on the job injuries and to protect the environment. We will continue to pursue our goal of providing the
very best of customer service to our callers and members.
The Mississippi Damage Prevention Committee (MDPC) had a very productive year last year. We had a regional meeting in North MS, one in South MS and three in Central MS. The result of these stakeholder meetings was the introduction of several changes to our existing excavation law. The main issues addressed were:
• Extending the notification time from two working days to three working days.
• Reducing the response time on “No Response” and “Unmarked Line” notifications from four hours to two hours.
• Creation of an “Impending Emergency” ticket and make filing a false emergency ticket an enforceable violation of our law.
• Mandatory white-lining of the proposed excavation site.
All the proposed changes were passed by the House and Senate with the exception of mandatory white-lining and have been signed into law effective July 1, 2023.
A special thanks to Sandy Sanford, our Lobbyist along with Marty Turner, Cole Fesmire and Shelton Cooley who have served as Co-chairmen for the MDPC. We will be looking forward to future MDPC meetings to discuss needed changes in the Excavation Law for next year’s Legislative session.
There are 42 active MDPC groups across our state that are becoming active, once again, now that the Covid crisis is over. I want to encourage all stakeholders: Utility Owner/Operators, Utility Locators, Excavators, Government Officials, etc. to get involved in your local groups as well as the regional meetings that will be coming up. The more diverse stakeholders that we can get to the table for discussions and consensus, the more effective we can be in our grassroots attempt to improve damage prevention and safety across our state. If you are not already affiliated with one or more of the MDPC groups, go to our website and determine which one of our Damage Prevention Coordinators covers your area and reach out to him.
I’m looking forward to serving you this year. As a final reminder, April is National Safe Digging Month. Let me encourage you to make that call to 811. In Mississippi, it’s not just the law... it’s the right thing to do.
Fred Johnson
President Mississippi 811
  2023, Issue 2 Mississippi 811 • 1

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